EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

For discussion of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel Människohamn
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danielma
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EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by danielma » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:28 am

So I'm finally 280 pages into Harbour. I'm hoping to get it done by the end of this month as I've decided to ignore doing anything else for the next two weeks (relaxation wise) and finally finish this book.

I have just reached the point where the truth about what is happening to Elin has been sort of revealed...the fact that her grotesque mutilation is the result of the former deceased Elsa...and I guess what would be the return of Henrik and Bjorn.

One of the biggest things I can say that I'm really loving about this book thus far is the Rich History that JAL has enfused into the fictional island of Domaro. I've really enjoyed the way in which he has been setting this small Island and its Shady or Cursed History up. With each chapter comes a rather pleasing reveal and is pulling me even further in.

The book so far reminds me a lot of something like Silent Hill, as in Anders descent into not only depression but what I guess would be his obsession to know what happened to Maja...or even The Wicker Man (in a way, in regards to the sacrifice rituals of Domaro).

I still have another 220 pages but right now the book is really coming together in a nice way. His use of going back and forward in time works effortsly and keeps me constantly intrigued and fascinated.

I particually enjoyed the introduction to Bjorn and Henrik...I also really like the detail of his charecters. The depictions of Anna-Greta and Simon's rather complex history and relationship in particular...and yes I got a small chuckle out of JAL's depiction of their elderly sex :)

The Spiritus raises a few questions though...but alas I will not ask them untill I'm done with the book.

Anyways, 280 pages in and thought I'd take a time out to reflect on the book thus far. It isn't quite beating LTROI for me, but I am finding it a fair bit better than Handling the Undead...which is not a slight against Handling, I did enjoy Handling, but the constant mystery and intrique of Harbour I can say is pulling me through with a lot of ease. Something I couldn't say for Handling at times

Anyways good job so far John...see you again in another 220 pages :)
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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by danielma » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:02 am

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So I finally finished Harbour today

WOW!!! Just Wow. I would agree TapeTrve, the Sea very much reminded me of an Outer God...especially towards the end when Anders was challenging it
Quick points (Spoilers Beware)

- The confrontation between Henrik, Bjorn and Anders towards the end of the book was probably one of the most intense scenes in the book
- My favorite 'horror scene' of the book was actually with the children on the peer. Where the Possessed Sofia pushes the little boy into the freezing water. Also the Duel between Karl-Erik and Lasse was another favorite possession scene
- The big reveal that it was the Salt Water that was letting the spirits of the sea into the people I can say that I didn't see coming. And yet so obvious
- All my main questions about Spiritus were kind of answered...I still have other lingering questions but they shall wait till I've had some time to process the book a little further
- I LOVED the descent followed by the ascent into the other world. That whole description I thought was really great and had me visioning how it would look and work in a film. I even loved the time in the other world as Anders was looking for Maja, there was something nice and eerie about its calmness compared to the descent into hell that Anders had taken in the real world.
- Creepiest moment of the book...Elin's dream of the Guy lying dead in his bed with his eyes opened as the Gulls hover above the boat. Really creepy image that visualized very well in my mind's eye
- I kinda called the reveal that Maja had been a rather tempromental child at times and that Anders was refusing to see that side of her...in other words he had become somewhat of an unreliable narrator.
- The openess as to what happened with Simon and Anna-Greta has me a little confused. They were frozen at sea, so does that mean they died in the massive tidal wave that came at the very end after Anders had angered and challenged the sea?
- I liked JAL's way in openly admitting his omission of details, such as the Wedding, which really didn't need to be overly explained...I like the fact that he was kind of honest in his way of saying that through the narration :)
- Once again, I feel John has done what he always does best. Write really flawed and somewhat tragic characters. That's one of the things I think John does best and here with this novel he once again shines in doing so.
- My only real slight gripe with the novel was the rather slow start...granted it wasn't too much of a problem as it does pay off...the history that he establishes pays off in the climax of the story...but I won't lie it was a little slow going to begin with...but once it did get into, boy was it worth it.
- I did like the Rich History of the Island and its characters though, I know I griped about the slowness, but the rich history was also kind of fascinating as a whole.


What I took from Harbour is very simple. I think John is personally a little afraid of Water...not that its a bad thing or a put down on John himself, but its a pattern I've noticed in all three books. Oskar almost drowns in the pool by his tormentors hands; Harbour is all about the terrible darkness that comes from the Sea...I think one of John's fears is Water and these books are definetly a way of him confronting those fears (or maybe I'm reading too much into it, if you happen to read this John please feel free to correct me)

But anyways, I actually really liked this book. I really enjoyed the fact that John could make the Sea into a Devastating Supernatural Force. I really enjoyed the rich history enfused into this book. He establishes this fictional island and gave it a life like it really did exsist. If a Film Adaption of this does come, then I am slightly worried that a lot of that rich history will not be translated to the film. Either way I would be very excited though to see a Film Adaption come
Last edited by danielma on Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:52 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by bore » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:30 am

danielma wrote:What I took from Harbour is very simple. I think John is personally a little afraid of Water...not that its a bad thing or a put down on John himself, but its a pattern I've noticed in all three books. Oskar almost drowns in the pool by his tormentors hands; Harbour is all about the terrible darkness that comes from the Sea...I think one of John's fears is Water and these books are definetly a way of him confronting those fears (or maybe I'm reading too much into it, if you happen to read this John please feel free to correct me)
Actually he mentions this at 3:37 in this promotional video for Harbour.
Jag har kommit att inse att i många av mina berättelser så behandlar jag vattnet som en fiende.
Och den här tesen har jag väl dragit längre än någonstans tidigare i Människohamn där det är själva havet som är huvudfienden, antagonisten.
Och jag har också kommet att inse att det här, kanske till viss del iallafall, beror på att min pappa drunknade för tio år sedan, här utanför.
I have come to realize that in many of my stories I treat water as an enemy.
And this thesis I have pulled further than anywhere else before in Harbour where it is the ocean itself which is the main enemy, the antagonist.
And I've also come to realize that this, perhaps to some extent anyway, is because my dad drowned ten years ago, outside of here.
I have meant to do a full translation for that video for some time but for some reason I have never really been in the mood for it.
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by Wolfchild » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:21 pm

Certainly one of the grisliest scenes in Handling The Undead has to do with water and drowning.

One of my favorite things about Harbour is the way that John told the tale of the day of Anders' big catch. He told it in pieces, scattered here and there, and as he reveals more and more of what is going on around Domarö, more things about that day click into to place. First he finds the alcohol/wormwood mixture (I knew there had to be a good reason for drinking absinthe :lol: ). Then other pieces come. The man in clogs walking into the sea. The revelation about wormwood. Then comes the description of how on that same day he and Cecilia came across his dad falling down drunk on it. All of these pieces flow naturally into the narrative, but also in the background there is this stealth-assembling of what really was going on on that day. Sort of a ninja-narrative.

I suppose John warned me that he was going to do this, but still I only realized after I had finished the book:
During the course of this story it will be necessary occasionally to jump back in time in order to explain something in the present. This is regrettable but unavoidable.
By showing things in the past to explain things in the present, he also explained what happened in the past.
...the story derives a lot of its appeal from its sense of despair and a darkness in which the love of Eli and Oskar seems to shine with a strange and disturbing light.
-Lacenaire

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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by danielma » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:50 pm

I have come to realize that in many of my stories I treat water as an enemy.
And this thesis I have pulled further than anywhere else before in Harbour where it is the ocean itself which is the main enemy, the antagonist.
And I've also come to realize that this, perhaps to some extent anyway, is because my dad drowned ten years ago, outside of here.
I have meant to do a full translation for that video for some time but for some reason I have never really been in the mood for it.
I did not know that...I knew that John's father had passed on, however I did not know he had drowned. That does make sense now, I did get that feeling from the way John had conveyed the dread of water (if you will) in his novels. Anyways I don't wish to show disrespect to the man himself, its actually one of the things I liked about LTROI, Handling and Harbour...I feel these three books are actually connected by the similar theme of something terrible happening through the source of water. The other connection being between the Father and the Child...whilst reading the scenes of Anders with his father, it felt like an extension of the scenes of Oskar with his father in LTROI...and I actually really liked that...I think I kind of look at LTROI, Handling and Harbour as a kind of trilogy of sorts. Sort of in the same way that Team ICO have done with their two games, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, they're connected but not necessarily related...that's kind of the way I feel about LTROI, Handling and Harbour...that its an unofficial trilogy of sorts that share common connections however are may share the same world of exsistence (or maybe they don't)

and I agree Wolfchild, its like a puzzle where all the pieces slowly come together and you realize "that was the meaning of the flashback". He's intergration of seamlessly moving back and forward between the past and present I felt was one of the strongest aspects to the novel. In order to explain the present, he dips into the past and yet it all just works so wonderfully well. It all comes together quite nicely come the end of the novel and I really appreciated that.

I'll say this much...I'm now dreading the long wait till September...I really want to read Little Star now...but alas I will have to keep waiting untill that English translation hits
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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by a_contemplative_life » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:56 am

Just wanted to let you know that I hope to offer my thoughts soon. I'm about 3/4 of the way through! :D
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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by gattoparde59 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:11 pm

danielma wrote:What I took from Harbour is very simple. I think John is personally a little afraid of Water...not that its a bad thing or a put down on John himself, but its a pattern I've noticed in all three books. Oskar almost drowns in the pool by his tormentors hands; Harbour is all about the terrible darkness that comes from the Sea...I think one of John's fears is Water and these books are definetly a way of him confronting those fears (or maybe I'm reading too much into it, if you happen to read this John please feel free to correct me)
I read in an interview that not only did his father drown at sea, but John had to go to the morgue and identify the body. He talks about how the whole experience really haunted him, not only because of the drowning in water but also in the fear of the undead. I wish I kept records of the things I read online . . .

I'll break open the story and tell you what is there. Then, like the others that have fallen out onto the sand, I will finish with it, and the wind will take it away.

Nisa

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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by bore » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:54 pm

gattoparde59 wrote:I read in an interview that not only did his father drown at sea, but John had to go to the morgue and identify the body. He talks about how the whole experience really haunted him, not only because of the drowning in water but also in the fear of the undead. I wish I kept records of the things I read online . . .
The drowning is mentioned in the poromotional video for Harbour.
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by Raven Eyes » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:33 am

Another brilliant novel from JAL finished. I said previously after reading HtU that the problem people have with his work is that after LTROI that he has given himself the difficult task of keeping a standard that both him and his fans have set. This is no exception and remains of that same high standard of quality, and this time, like LTROI, has fleshed out all the characters so we see people as they are - there are no identifiable heroes and villains as such, only flawed individuals who have problems either fitting into a society, grieving over the loss of a loved one, or coping with life and struggling with growing old.
As with any of Lindqvists works (that have been translated into English so far) we discover that true horror comes from the human characters and not from the supernatural - in this case I was creeped out more by the Elin&Joel sequence at the party with Henrik&Bjorn than I was by the big reveal at the end.
The only book I could even think of comparing it to at the moment would be Koji Suzuki's Dark Water which is a series of short stories with a child on an island hearing stories told by her grandmother all involving dangers of water and mostly the sea (from memory - been a while since I read it).
Only criticism I have is one of the quotes on the back of the book which says that this is classic Lindqvist! Only three books into his career (four if you count the still-in-translation Paper Walls) and already he has a classic period??
As I said a brilliant novel.

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Re: EDIT: I'm Done :) Mini Review Time

Post by a_contemplative_life » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:05 am

I agree with your point about the horrific nature of how otherwise normal human beings treat one another. Then when those guys came back and drowned Erin in a bucket--really creeped me out.
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